BeagleBone Black + RAMPS


The BeagleBone Black, with an impressive amount of computing power and a whole bunch of I/O, would make an impressive CNC controller, save for two shortcomings: The BBB isn’t in stock anywhere, and CNC capes are a little on the pricey side. [Marc Peltier] can’t do anything about finding a distributor that doesn’t have the BeagleBone on backorder for you, but he did come up with an adapter for the very popular RAMPS-FD 3D printer controller board (Forum, French, Here’s the Google translation matrix).

The RAMPS-FD is an extension of the RAMPS board and a shield for the Arduino Due. Both the Due and BBB work on 3.3 V, meaning controlling the RAMPS-FD is simply a matter of finding the correct wiring diagram and pin assignments on the BeagleBone. [Marc] solved this problem by using the settings from the BeBoPr cape and using the existing BeBoPr LinuxCNC configuration.

The end result of [Marc]‘s tinkering is something a lot like [Charles Steinkueler]‘s CNC capes for the BeagleBone Black we saw at the Midwest RepRap Fest. [Charles] isn’t selling his capes, but no one else seems to be selling BeagleBone Blacks, either.

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Auto Roll-up Tool Storage

Auto Roll-up Tool Storage

[Anred's] got the right idea. Everybody and their mother has a toolbox: rectangular, wooden, crowded. You’re not impressing anyone with that old thing. Instead, why not spice it up by rolling it up, with a tool case that spins to store in style?

This storage hack seems to draw its inspiration from field medic roll-up bags, where everything’s laid out for easy access with a quick toss. [Anred] started by taking inventory of all the items he wanted to use on a regular basis, organizing them across a sturdy fabric. Next, he marked all the mounting spots and affixed some elastic material with needle and thread to hold each tool in place. The tools then roll up around a center rod, like an upside-down pull curtain.

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Leak-Proof Water Blob Provides Hours of Fun

leak proof water blob

With the warm weather slowly creeping back it’s time to think of warm summer days, and with that comes this rather interesting leak-proof water… blob?

[Leisha] over at Homemade Toast has come up with a super inexpensive way to make a water blob  – or a giant outdoor waterbed? It certainly looks cool, and apparently keeps children entertained for hours playing on it. We wonder how bouncy you could make one for bigger kids (i.e. us).

It’s made out of a roll of painter’s plastic drop sheet, and instead of trying to tape, glue or otherwise seal the edges, [Leisha's] figured out an easy way to melt the seams together using a clothes iron. By sandwiching parchment paper over the two pieces of plastic, you can gently run the iron along the edge, creating a very strong bond, without melting a hole in the plastic.

Seriously — we want to see someone make a giant version of this for some extreme waterbed bouncing!

[via Viral Nova]

PenguinBot Follows Light, Goes Screech in the Night

The Arduino Based Penguin Robot
Ever have one of those weekend projects that takes on a life of its own? [Michael] did, and the result is this PenguinBot. While [Michael's] wife was away for the weekend he happened upon a broken toy penguin. The batteries had leaked inside, destroying the contacts. Rather than bin the toy, [Michael] made it awesome by turning it into an autonomous robot. [Michael's] goal was to create a robot that could roam around the house avoiding obstacles, or follow a light source like a flashlight.

He started by pulling out most of the original electronics. Two dollar store toy trains gave their lives and their motors to replace the penguin’s original drive system. An Arduino Pro Mini became PenguinBot’s brain. Sensors consisted of two light sensing CdS cells, an AdaFruit sound sensor, and a MaxBotix ultrasonic sensor. With the ultrasonic sensor mounted on a servo, it can detect obstacles in any direction. The CdS cells and some software will allow PenguinBot to follow lights, like any good photovore robot should.

Click past the break to see PenguinBot in action

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Low-Power Orientation Tracker and an Optimized Math Library for the MSP430

MSP430 Orientation Tracker

Orientation trackers can be used for a ton of different applications: tracking mishandled packages, theft notification of valuables, and navigation are just a few examples! A recent blog post from Texas Instruments discusses how to build a low-cost and low-power orientation tracker with the MSP430.

Based on the MSP430 LaunchPad and CircuitCo’s Educational BoosterPack, the orientation tracker is very simple to put together. It can also be made wireless using any of the wireless BoosterPacks with a Fuel Tank BoosterPack, or by using the BLE Booster Pack with a built in Lithium Battery circuitry. TI provide all the necessary code and design files in their reference application for getting your orientation tracker up and running. Be sure to see the device in action after the break! This project not only involves building a low-power orientation tracker, but also showcases IQmathLib, a library of optimized fixed point math functions on the MSP430. One of the more challenging aspects of using small MCUs such as the MSP430 or Arduino is how inefficient built in math libraries are. Check out the IQmathLib, it greatly improves upon the built in math functions for the MSP430.

It would be interesting to see this project modified to be a DIY pedometer or be used on a self-balancing robot. It would also be interesting to see the IQmathLib ported to other micros, such as the Arduino. Take a look and see how you can use this reference design in your own projects!

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DIY Gas Can Speakers Blast Your Tunes

Gas Can Speaker

Have you ever wanted to build your own speakers, but were a bit overwhelmed with all the information out there on cases and packaging? A recent Instructable by [Txje] goes over how to build a set of simple gas can speakers.

While using gas cans as speaker housings will not result in the best audiophile quality sound or be the cheapest option out there, it sure looks awesome, and is a great way to get started with building your own speakers. After testing out the speakers and electronics, holes in the gas cans are cut and the terminals and speakers are installed. “As an added bonus, the pour spout serves to release pressure in the speaker can. You can get everything you need for ~$69 from Amazon and/or Home Depot.” Not a bad price point for two very cool looking speakers.  Once you have built the speakers, now you can experiment with different fill material to see what results in better sound quality.

This is a simple, yet fun looking build. Something like this can make a nice gift for someone who spends a lot of time in their garage. What other crazy objects have you used for speaker enclosures?

We’re Not Joking Around; Something BIG is Coming

Hackaday Something BIG LogoCountdown timer, a special presentation on the first of this month, and now there’s been some weekly mystery posts. What are we playing at? We’re not playing. This is real.

That timer is now below the 10-day mark and with every passing minute we become more giddy about the unrelenting awesome that is to come. Want to know what we’re talking about without waiting until the end? Are you a clever person? Then you might just be able to figure it all out. Try to unlock the clues from past weeks, and hit the Freenode ##hackaday channel on IRC if you need some hints (we’re certainly not going to post spoilers here).

We wouldn’t mind some help with a whisper campaign as well. Spout your conspiracy theories, and your delight at solving our puzzles to whoever will listen. Get it right and you can do the “I told you so” thing for the rest of the…. oops, that would be telling.